The Title Says It All
1995 was a year that marked the “Girl Power,” revolution. The Spice girls were just getting started, Xena: Warrior Princess and Sailor Moon were empowering young women and Sigourney Weaver was doing her thing in Death and the Maiden. Sharon Stone was also establishing her self as a power figure in the film industry.
The Quick and the Dead is somewhat along those lines. It features a woman, The Lady, who is quite proficient at using guns. She’s tough, uncaring, and a crack shot. She finds herself in a no name town that just happens to have a gunslinging competition competition that is about to begin. Because the mayor of the town is corrupt she has no choice to enter to win the sweet $100,000 prize.
The film is directed by Sam Rami and you can tell right off the bat from most of the over the top silliness such as a crazy camera angle where we see a character get shot, then peer back at the shooter through a hole in the victim’s head. There are a couple of homages toward regular western conventions such as the build up tension during the draws, the zoom in on the character’s eyes but taken to an extreme level.
The movie is Con Air meets a shooting tournament. It’s full of quirky characters and all of them have some kind of gimmick. For the most part the actors do a good job with the peculiar characters they are given. Lance Henriksen is Ace Hanlon, a trick shot artist who has an ace in his deck of cards for every person he’s killed. Leonardo DiCaprio is The Kid, a young kid (of course) who claims to be the son of Jon Herod, the man who rules the town, and thinks the only way to prove himself as his son is to defeat him in a gun battle. Gene Hackman is out of this world as Jon Herod, he is a sinister character and Hackman really sells it. However, I can’t say that Sharon Stone goes all in as The Lady, she seems almost too aloof and flat which is a shame because she’s the main character.
Because The Quick and the Dead is set around a shooting competition there isn’t much meat on the film, it’s kind of shallow. There are other story threads flowing though the movie but most of them are weak and only there to progress the film to the next shooting segment. Ultimately The Quick and the Dead is a simple film. It accomplishes what it set out to be, a quirky film about a quick draw tournament.